I was watching the Monday night football game between the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns, and I became slightly disturbed by something. It was in the beginning of the third quarter and the Browns’ underused running back Jerome Harrison took a handoff to the outside of the right tackle for nine yards, and when it appeared he was giving up and had half a foot out of bounds Buffalo linebacker Kawika Mitchell came into the picture and shoved Harrison, knocking him off balance and flying face first into the Bills’ bench. The play was rightfully flagged. Even if Harrison was not all the way out of bounds at the time of the hit, the player was clearly going to be out of bounds at the same spot under his own will. The hit is not necessarily what upset me the most, it’s what took place moments after the hit.
After Harrison stumbled and fell face first into the bench, he laid there for a moment or two in pain and the camera showed Kawika Mitchell talking trash like he was the best linebacker in the league to the apparently injured player. At that point Mitchell was flagged, and, luckily for him, after a few moments Harrison got up under his own power. But wow! congratulations Mitchell! You made an illegal hit and cost your team 15 yards which put the Browns in field position for a field goal in a close and perhaps the most important game of the season for the Bills. All of this occurred as you looked like a fool on national television talking trash to an injured player. The same player who just torched you and your team on a 72-yard touchdown run on the previous drive and did so without an extravagant celebration. No matter how appalled I was by the celebration I can’t say I was surprised because the NFL has been overtaken by a growing epidemic of players who think that just because they make a tackle or get a first down that they have earned the right celebrate like they won a Super Bowl.
Think about this, the next time I deliver a pizza at my job and receive a record tip, I’m not going spike the pizza in the customers face, take the tip money fan it out, and wave it back-and-forth in front of my face like windshield wiper locked in overdrive while screaming “You can’t see me!” before I go back to the car. Why? Because I’m just doing my job; it is what I get paid to do. It’s expected of me.
Seriously, we’ve had enough of the “You can’t see me”, (if you’re unfamiliar with this take at least one weekend and watch different college and professional football games) the post-sack dances, trash talking coming from scrubs, or the famous “I made a tackle so I’ll sprint twenty yards further downfield after the play directing all of the attention to me flexing my muscles as my teammates jump on me.”
I’m not completely against celebrations. I know the players work hard to reach the end zone and get the sack or interception, but it’s the players that turn everything into a production and forget that there are thousands of people dying to be in their shoes that weren’t blessed with the same God-given talents that would do the same things for free. These are players who are paid more than the doctors, police officers, and firemen who get paid considerably less for jobs that save lives, and aren’t done for entertainment purposes, and they do their jobs without a Deion Sanders dance, or Joey Porter boot, or any number of Chad Johnson/T.O. gimmicks.
It’s time for NFL fans to support those who play the game like their not just in it for the money or individual success. Most of these “superstars” don’t need another reason boost their egos any more, so this is my plea to today’s NFL fans, next time a player makes a tackle that is expected of them and celebrates to some excessive level don’t encourage them with more cheering. Instead cheer for those like Jerome Harrison who are just doing their job with a bit of professionalism.